Privilege to Innovate
They say Indians aren’t innovative in the tech space. Ever wondered why?
I was reading a developer story on GeekTrust yesterday. Here’s a para:
India has very good talent. We are good at learning, developing and being hardworking developers. But what we lack is innovation. In the US and Singapore, technologists work on innovation. They are in an environment where there can be innovation.
Here we have a good number of opportunities to apply what is already out there to develop great solutions. But we need to push beyond learning and applying; we need to start fostering true innovation. We need to create an environment where there can be innovation and there needs to be more focus on it.
In connection with India banning many apps including TikTok, yesterday, there have been conversations about Indian “clones” which will now take the place of these applications. Hrishi pointed out in an interview that there is also a chance that tech giants like Facebook will take over the vacuum.
The question on why Indians couldn’t build their own TikTok in the first place was heard in the background.
I was listening to Subin Siby’s talk on Youtube (in Malayalam) just now and one particular point Subin made was very interesting. Getting a server to host their innovative ideas was hard. Subin’s parents had to be convinced to buy a domain. Free server hosts had to be searched for. Online payment was a hazzle. Even today Subin is developing projects like vett.space with client side technologies because that way it would be cheap.
The reason why innovation doesn’t happen in India
Lack of privilege. Many young Indians don’t have the privilege for these:
- Hardware - access to computers at a young age. Many people only see a computer in the computer science lab of their school/college. And there you cannot play around with the internals of the computer. Most of learning computers happen by breaking it and then fixing it. You wouldn’t have this freedom on a computer you don’t own.
- Software - exposure to GNU/Linux and similar software that encourage hacker culture. And that’s because of point 1 above. Most computers come installed with Windows. To install GNU/Linux, someone usually has to risk breaking it. Don’t want to take risk, don’t install GNU/Linux, miss out on all the learning.
- Cost - The cost involved in getting a server. It maybe “just $5” for an American. But that translates to a slightly higher amount for an Indian (plus GST now).
- Payment - I couldn’t get a cheap server for a very long time because Indian debit cards do not come with international transactions enabled by default. Forget having access to credit cards. Online banking gateways were not supported. There is a lot of things you can’t get to do because of this difficulty in procuring a service.
- I’m not even going to list down the deeper issues including pathetic education system, poverty, and gender discrimination.
These are simple things. But only when a hundred million kids have access to these things will we have a hundred “one-in-a-million” wonders coming up from India.
The Indian innovations are stuck in the minds of our people because they don’t have the privilege to innovate.